I was standing in front of a table lamp display in Crate & Barrel when I decided maybe I needed to be on psychiatric medicine. I had been alternating between staring at the display and wandering around the store helplessly for the last two and a half hours and was no closer to making a decision on what table lamp I was going to buy than I had been when I walked in. My heart was beating fast, my mind was racing, and I simply could not concentrate on making what should have been a very simple decision. I was thisclose to a full-blown panic attack. Instead, I walked out of the store, went home empty-handed, and told my therapist that Tuesday that I needed a referral for a psychiatrist. I seriously could not take this s**t anymore.Eventually a psychiatrist and my general practitioner concluded that I probably suffered from a mixture of anxiety and depression and I was prescribed Lexapro, a med that treats both, as well as a low dosage of Adderall, which has been shown to work well in combination with Lexapro in patients whose anxiety is influenced by an inability to focus and mild ADD. As a way of regulating my anxiety, I’d developed some obsessive-compulsive behaviors. I was constantly straightening things around the house — objects had to be aligned perfectly, bedding needed to be totally symmetrical on both sides, and I mopped my kitchen floor free of streaks on nearly a twice daily basis. These flaws both ignited my anxiety, but also gave me a way of controlling it — unfortunately, being a complete freak about dust bunnies over 20 feet away does not make for a comfortable home life.
So while finding that there were three things, well, wrong with me was kind of scary at first, it was also a relief, because now I could maybe deal with them properly. I had been in therapy for a little while, having already recognized that I had some emotional issues I needed help dealing with, but I had reached a bit of a plateau with my progress. Even though I was actively working hard at resolving issues from my past that had bothered me, my coping skills felt extremely inhibited. Sometimes I would explode with rage (like the time I hit my then-boyfriend) or would go on a crippling crying jag.
Still, despite these outbursts, for the most part my senses felt extremely dulled. I had no real “reason” to be unhappy, but I still felt like I was walking around each day in a fog. It wasn’t until the medicines began to take effect that I realized, Oh holy s**t. This is what I’ve been missing. It was as if I had been seeing in black and white for so long and I was finally glimpsing the color again. That allowed me to finally notice the intricacies and the subtleties of the issues I had been working so hard to acknowledge and get through, but couldn’t.
Since I started taking Lexapro (especially this, though I think the Adderall aids it in very important ways that are particular to my needs), I’ve been released from the white noise in my brain that made it impossible for me to sense the deeper issues at their roots. Without the dull, aching sadness weighing heavily on my shoulders, I can feel true joy and deal with genuine sadness.
All of this is hard to put into words, but I’ll simply say this: Taking medication for my anxiety, depression, and ADD has made it so I am no longer standing in my own way of feeling what is real. As a result, the last few years have been my best ever professionally; while they have been extremely difficult at times personally, I’ve had the strength and the clarity of mind to just deal. I don’t know how much longer I will need them, but I am definitely not ashamed that I do.